Middletown celebrates 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark Expedition    Send a link to a friend

[JULY 13, 2004]  MIDDLETOWN -- Russell Hively of Neosho, Mo., will be in Middletown to portray Capt. William Clark, co-leader of the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, during the annual Knapp-Chestnut-Becker Historical Society ice cream social on Sunday (July 18).

Russell Hively as Capt. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, 1804-1806

The social will be at the park pavilion from 2 to 4 p.m., with the historical portrayal at 2 p.m. and entertainment by the Peoria Barbershoppers at 3 p.m.

Donations are $3 for ice cream, cake or pie, and tea or coffee; and 50 cents for pop.

Hively, a retired English teacher, has spent several years studying the life of Capt. Clark and the famous journals kept on the expedition. He has portrayed Capt. Clark in at least 100 performances in five states.

Appearing in costume, Hively reads short excerpts from the journals and then speaks out as a student of the subject. His presentations always conclude with a question-and-answer session with his audience.

Hively's presentation, "Capt. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Returns to Report," is sponsored by the Road Scholars program of the Illinois Humanities Council.

Historical background

At the conclusion of the historic 1804-1806 expedition, 1,000 people lined the riverbanks, firing salute after salute. As the canoes came ashore on Sept. 23, 1806, near St. Louis, there were three huge cheers and a hearty welcome for the brave survivors.

Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), private secretary to President Thomas Jefferson, had received his commission in 1803 with William Clark to explore the uncharted Northwest. Lewis left Washington, D.C., on July 5, 1803, and his mission would not be over until he reported to the president. So, jumping from his canoe, he inquired as to the next post and was able to delay the mail for a day.


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He reported that, alas, there was no all-water route linking the Atlantic and the Pacific. However, he announced the explorers' safe arrival with "our papers and baggage" -- a reference to the new-to-science plants and animal descriptions -- which were great scientific discoveries Jefferson had anticipated.

Stephen E. Ambrose, author of "Lewis & Clark, Voyage of Discovery," quotes Lewis: "With respect to the exertions and services rendered by the esteemable man Capt. William Clark in the course of our late voyage, I cannot say too much. If, sir, any credit be due for the success of the arduous enterprise in which we had been mutually engaged, he is equally with myself entitled to your consideration and that of our common country."

The book by Ambrose, published by the National Geographic Society in 1998, includes photography and maps.

Calling all coin collectors

At 4:30 p.m. a raffle will be conducted for two silver dollar Lewis and Clark commemorative coins obtained from the U.S. Mint in Washington, D.C.

Donations for the coin raffle are one ticket for $2 or three for $5. Winners need not be present.

Funds from the ice cream social are used to maintain and upgrade the Knapp Library and Museum, 101 S. Clinton in Middletown.

[News release]

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